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Birddog Redefines NDI-to-HDMI on the cheap

A little over two years ago, I surveyed the various tools that could be used to display an NDI stream on a monitor or projector. In staging Cluecon 2018 I had used a couple of Lenovo M73 Tiny computers running Windows and Newtek Studio Monitor. There were other options, but the most accessible dedicated hardware solution was the Birddog Mini, which cost around $500.

That post has proven to be quite popular. In fact, it needs to be revisited in the light the latest announcements from Birddog, which happened just this week. Newtek’s launch of NDI 5 allowed Birddog to announce a set of new products and services, including Birddog Play.

Birddog Play is a small dedicated hardware device designed to allow playback of an NDI stream at a monitor or projector. It ticks literally every box I can think of. And it does it for just $150 USD!

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Reality Check: Vivo Offers Logitech Brio Webcam

I’ve used the Logitech’s Brio webcam since its introduction. It’s been mentioned hereabouts many times, including a detailed review. It’s a solid product. Recommended.

That said, given the pandemic, Logitech webcams have been hard to get over the past year. The sudden surge in work & school-from-home has created massive demand for webcams and headsets. Brand name products were in very short supply in Q3 & Q4-2020. The shortage seems to be easing up now.

When inventory was low or non-existent, companies like VoIP Supply offered off-brand or generic products for prices very close to the big brand names. Now that the situation is easing up, real Logitech products are once again available. Although, don’t expect many discounts.

This brings me to the real reason for this post. An ad for a Logitech Brio appeared in my Facebook feed today. Reseller Vivo, based in Utah, was offering it for $199, reportedly marked down from $218.

I find them offered on Amazon for $186, making the Vivo offer not unreasonable.

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Status Update: Raspberry Pi as a Wi-Fi Bridge

We’re three weeks on from installing the new Vizio M65 and its associated Tivo Mini. As described previously, the Tivo Mini needed Ethernet, so I used a Raspberry Pi 3 as a Wi-Fi bridge.

At the outset, this arrangement seemed to work. However, several times the Mini lost its network connection. In particular, when rebooted it would often fail to re-establish connection to the Roamio Pro that has the tuners and all the stored programming.

In that state, on the network but unable to find the main unit, the Mini has limited functionality. It can only access streaming media accounts like Netflix, Amazon Prime or YouTube. It does this directly, with no help from the Roamio Pro.

I suspect that the Mini, which is by no means a high-performance device, suffers network issues poorly. In fact, both Roamio Pro and Tivo Mini are old and likely prone to trouble resulting from network latency or instability.

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It seems that webcams are important after all

For quite a few years I’ve believed that webcams are an important tool in the arsenal of personal communications. I’ve also wondered openly when they would evolve beyond a relatively simplistic state. For example, it took a long time for a USB 3 connected webcam to arrive.

This morning my wife was researching webcams for some of her staff. While she has a long history in broadcast production, she’s currently a public relations and corporate communications professional. Her staff are fielding requests from TV stations seeking to do remote interviews using tools like Skype, Zoom, Webex, etc.

Logitech Streamcam frontal

Since they have existing desktops, they don’t have built-in webcams. She was looking for webcams to add to these existing computers. Off the top of my head I recommended Logitech’s latest, which is known as the StreamCam.

Introduced in February of this year, the StreamCam is a brand new product. Unlike the Brio 4K webcam, reviewed here a while back, it’s USB 3.1 Type-C connected, delivering 1080p60. It’s likely a better solution than Brio 4K for most people.

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Using four webcams on a single computer

The other day over the in the vMix User Group on Facebook Mark Schutte asked the following:

Is there a way to get VMIX to work with multiple USB webcams at the 720 or 1080 settings? I’ve been able to get up to four webcams to work only if they are set to lower resolutions. USB 3.1 and USB-C provide more than enough bandwidth but it always gives a USB bandwidth error message when the webcams are set to higher resolutions.

Mark Schutte

Given my long-running exploration of webcams, I felt that I was especially well positioned to address this question. After all, how many people have a collection of such items readily at hand? While I answered in the comment trail on facebook, I think the info is worth sharing here as well.

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